Santa Croce


The Basilica di Santa Croce is an example of a Tuscan Gothic church in Florence.


Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, the construction of Santa Croce began in 1294 and finished in 1442. Although the architectural style of the church is Gothic, the marble façade of the building is a 19th century addition in the Gothic-Revival style. The building complex contains the basilica and adjacent courtyard. Surrounding the courtyard is the Pazzi Chapel and the Opera’s Museum. Located on the other side of the museum is a magnificent cloister. 

The interior of the nave of the basilica is decorated with funerary monuments, commemorating such people as Alberti, Dante, Machiavelli, Ghiberti and Galileo. Santa Croce is also decorated with some of the most significant works of art in Florence, from frescoes by Giotto to sculptures by Donatello and architecture by Brunelleschi (the Pazzi Chapel). Santa Croce is also home to the oldest stained glass windows in Florence.

Did you known?

The most famous of the tombs in Santa Croce is that of Michelangelo. The tomb monument was designed by Giorgio Vasari, who had written about the life of Michelangelo in his book ‘The Lives of the Artists.’ The monument includes a bust of Michelangelo made by sculptor Battista Lorenzi. There are three sculpted figures each representing aspects of Michaelangelo’s talent in architecture, painting and sculpture. Michelangelo died in Rome in 1564 and his body was moved to Santa Croce, as it was the location chosen by the artist for his tomb, despite the Pope’s request that he be buried in St Peters Basilica. Michelangelo reportedly chose this exact location for his tomb so that upon Judgement day, when graves open, the first thing he would see would be Brunelleschi’s Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore.

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